Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB
USA, 1984. Aspect Ratio Productions, Twin Continental Productions. Screenplay by Neal Israel, Pat Proft. Cinematography by Hal Trussell. Produced by Bob Israel, Ron Moler, Raju Patel. Music by Robert Folk. Production Design by Kevin Conlin, Martin Price. Costume Design by Alfred Angelo, Michele Piccione. Film Editing by Tom Walls.
Neal Israel combines exploitative eighties sex comedies with A Night At The Opera for a result that is, while not brilliant, cleverly executed and even, at times, quite witty. The best thing it has going for it is the comedic dynamism of its star Tom Hanks, who plays one of a group of forever-young friends who is threatening to ruin their usual Never Never Land fun with the announcement of his impending nuptials to his girlfriend Tawny Kitaen.
Hanks’ easy chemistry with his co-stars is on display in every scene, he gives such natural reactions to his scene partners and delivers the more capricious moments in the story as if the director was following his improvisational cue. Those moments stack up quite nicely as our star’s friends, led by Adrian Zmed, decide to throw him a world-ending bachelor party, booking a giant suite at a fancy hotel and ordering sex workers to come and give him the last free night of his life. Unfortunately, his prospective father-in-law is not happy about the news, and is still hoping that his daughter will marry preppy, stuck-up Robert Prescott, whom he enlists to help break up the match any way he knows how.
Like a Looney Tunes character, Prescott tries everything at his disposal, from rerouting the prostitutes the boys ordered to the girls’ wedding shower, to shooting a crossbow directly into the party crowd, yet somehow he always gets bested by our hero and his good-natured band of merry men. Eventually the hotel suite turns into a packed house of revellers, down the hall a group of Japanese businessmen accidentally think Kitaen and her friends are also hookers, her father shows up thanks to his being in the hotel for a business conference and a donkey gets into the party and does a few rails of cocaine.
It’s an eighties sex comedy so of course there is plenty in it that would inspire reams of complaint letters today, it’s often sexist, sometimes racist and homophobic and its concept is constructed around a void, hollow centre. It’s also good-natured and its main figures don’t feel like types, the characters all seem to genuinely like each other and the couple at the centre of it all seem to be destined for true happiness.
Perhaps that doesn’t make it a family classic, but if you are going to dip into the nostalgia of this era of morally bankrupt, intellectually unsavoury comedies produced by soulless corporations who have taken over the movie studios, you could do a hell of a lot worse.